Good hunting boots are absolutely necessary accessories for hunters. They help hunters avoid blisters, foot cramps and cold feet. Think about the discomfort of having cold, sore or sweaty feet in the middle of the expedition. And yet, many hunters commit the crime of throwing their investment into a corner after each hunt, leaving the boots all wet and dirty without until the next hunt begins. Even the best hunting boots cannot last long if treated that way so let’s have a look at the following guide for taking care of them.
Before talking about specific maintenance steps, let’s spend a moment on the reason why regular treatment is essential.
Neglecting treatment for your boots after each hunt can easily cause their quality to decrease quickly. Worst, you toss your boots into a garage at the end of the hunting season and only remember it until the next season: That will be a nightmare especially for leather boots. This expensive material get dries and shrinks very fast.
Cleaning should be done after each hunt, especially if your boots are covered in mud or dirt. No matter how tired you are, try to spend a little time with them: even with a quick 5-minute cleaning with water is valuable. If you leave them until the next day, mud can get into the boot’s seams and pores; this enemy will stay in these places and get dry, causing the boot’s quality to reduce.
For proper cleaning, you should remove the laces first and use a brush to remove dust, dirt or mud (do not use too much force). It is recommended that you use a specialized boot cleaner than detergent or bar soap. A mild dishwashing soap is also acceptable. For mold, a mixture of water and vinegar can do the trick. A little cleaning for the outsole is nice. Always rinse the boots thoroughly with water.
You should remove the insole and let the boots dry naturally upside-down. Do not rush the process or the boot material can be ruined. Never place your boots near a heat source like fireplace, heater or campfire: the material may shrink, the adhesives get weakened.
If you want to dry your boots quickly, place them in front of a fan (not too close). Or, you can just stuff some pieces of newspaper into these boots. Newspaper can be considered as a pretty good moisture absorber; however, do not leave these peices in the boots for too long; replace them after about 1 hour.
Number one rule here: never store away wet boots. Moisture can ruin the boots easily. Keep them in a place of normal temperature with good ventilation. Avoid such stuffy places like the car trunks or garages.
After you clean your boots and let them dry thoroughly, you should condition them well too. What type of conditioner to use depends on the boot materials: mink oil, beeswax.. Use a soft, dry cloth to apply the conditioner and make sure you do not use too much of it.
Mud, dirt and moisture are all the boot’s enemies. Leather boots can suffer from cracking. Do not wait until you feel your boots start to absorb water to waterproof it. Pay attention the wax or oil layer; if they are dry, you should know it is time for waterproofing your boots.
Before this, you need to clean your boots first. But waterproofing products should be applied when the boots are still damp (not soaking wet, though). It is advised that you seek professional advice to find out the correct products for your boots.
After you come back on an expedition on rough terrain, take a look at your boots and check for cracks or holes. Clean and dry the boots thoroughly first, and then use a sealer product to patch the hole. For serious holes, you can combine the sealer product with duct tape.
Of all the materials used for hunting boots, leather is the pickiest one. If you have a pair of leather boots, proper attention should be given to protect your investment or you will end up paying at least hundreds of dollars for the new placement. Give your boots some love and they will serve you well in a long time.